The Netherlands’ Germaine de Randamie made history Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, as she won a razor-thin five-round unanimous decision over Holly Holm to take the UFC’s first ever women’s featherweight championship.
Scores were 48-47 across the board for de Randamie, now 7-3, in the UFC 208 main event. Holm, the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, falls to 10-3. The pro-Holm crowd was stunned by the verdict.
“It was a close fight,” de Randamie said. “I came to fight and she didn’t want to fight me. She is a tremendous champion I have a lot of respect for her, but I like to brawl.”
It was an interesting clash of styles from the start, with Holm using the entire Octagon while shooting in with low kicks and punches upstairs. Meanwhile, de Randamie calmly stalked Holm, and when Holm would get too aggressive, “The Iron Lady” would make her pay with stiff right hands. In the final minute, Holm looked for a takedown, de Randamie responded with a throw attempt, and the two ended up clinched against the fence until the end of the round, both jockeying for position.
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Holm continued to attack the legs of de Randamie early in round two, but her punches were missing, allowing the Dutch kickboxer to keep scoring with her right hand. But once more, Holm adjusted well by taking the fight to the fence, where she tried to outmuscle her foe. De Randamie reacted effectively in her own right, scoring with knees when she was able to find daylight. A shot just after the horn appeared to wobble Holm, but no points were deducted by referee Todd Anderson.
“It was in the heat of the moment,” de Randamie said after the bout. “I apologize. I’m not like that.”
It was Holm pushing the pace once more in round three, with de Randamie just not active enough to pull ahead in the closely contested battle. In the final minute, a missed Holm takedown attempt saw de Randamie land some hard shots, but it was Holm who made her opponent stumble due to a kick to the head that was answered by a flurry by de Randamie that included another late strike.
The clinch work that marked the first two minutes of round four was broken up by Anderson when the action stalled, and it was back to the pattern of the previous rounds, with Holm sticking, moving and scoring, but de Randamie landing the more telling blows, albeit sporadically. The crowd became restless as the two clinched in the late stages of the round, but de Randamie was able to get some knees off in the process.
With the fight possibly up for grabs in the final frame, de Randamie began upping her workrate as Holm continued to stay as busy as she had for the previous four rounds. But a takedown attempt from the Utrecht native was turned aside as Holm then locked her foe up against the fence until a restart from Anderson with a little over two minutes left. By now, Holm began landing with her left hand, but she opted for another clinch, drawing boos from the crowd. Holm was dominating the close range action though, not giving de Randamie any room to breathe. But when the final horn sounded, the Netherlands had its second UFC champion (after Bas Rutten), and de Randamie is the queen of a new weight class.
As for the prospect of a bout with Cris “Cyborg” Justino, de Randamie said, “I want to fight everybody,” but only after hand surgery.